Guide to Conference Content
We will open and close the conference with a guided meditation. The opening meditation will honor the 500th anniversary of the birth of Teresa of Ávila and use two of Teresa’s poems, which we will enter through a Taize Chant, and a guided process based on Teresa’s guidance for opening to contemplative prayer. This time of prayer and reflection will provide a gentle transition, leaving cares behind and becoming fully present to the present moment, allowing us to open to the sacred dimensions of poetry.
The closing guided meditation will allow us to “gather up the fragments,” featuring two or three contemporary poems set to music, and encourage us to linger contemplatively with the fruits of the conference before we leave.
We will gather twice for worship during the conference. In addition to being an opportunity to worship together, the two services will also serve to demonstrate in practice how poetry can be brought into worship and liturgy. Tuesday’s service will engage poetry as a way of reflecting on scripture. On Wednesday we will gather for an ecumenical service of Holy Communion, drawing on the poetry of George Herbert, and on prayers from the 1559 prayer book which Herbert himself was familiar with, as well as a series of modern poets.
Poetry as an Opening to the Mystical
People relate to religious mystical poetry in a variety of ways. For some, the words of the poet,…”voices the longings of the spirit and our deep desires—the desire for meaning, for a life of passion and creativity, for a sense of belonging, for wisdom and…for love.” Others are compelled to write their own poetry in response to mystical experience which, in turn, often evokes similar yet distinct experiences in the one who contemplates such poems. This workshop will explore these mystical uses and effects of poetry through such poems themselves.